9 FREE Services Great for Small Businesses
Getting a small or even mid-size business up and running can be very costly, especially when dealing with the tools needed to be organized and efficient. Here are a few free services for small business owners that will undoubtedly help a lot with the process and get you going without even spending a penny.
SBA – Small Business Association
This independent government agency has proven invaluable to many small businesses, offering countless resources from tax information, loan guarantees, contract jobs, and counseling. While securing a loan can be difficult, if you can take that route, it’s often the best, with offices in each state and a very informative website. If you’re unable to qualify for one of their loans, private lenders can likely help out in that department.
SCORE – Service Corps of Retired Executives
A nonprofit sector of the SBA that gives free or very low-cost business advice to small or startup businesses, with over 11,000 seasoned and successful retired business people volunteering to help out. I have personally used this service, free of charge. A mentor was assigned to me, she called me up, set up a meeting at a coffee shop, and was incredibly helpful. She even offered other contacts that were able to help with other aspects of my small business.
Social Media Link Shortening
Social media is invaluable to small businesses not only because it’s free (unless you’re using the paid advertising platforms, which is recommended), but it’s a fantastic way to network and reach your niche audience easily and efficiently. Whether you’re sharing a website link on a platform with a character limit, or want your post to be attractive, using a URL shortener like bit.ly is very handy, and free!
If you’re not already using it, try Gmail by Google. It’s simple, with plenty of storage (15GB free), other tools like a calendar, and provides a way to post to Google+ and YouTube from the same place.
Email Blast Programs
Email marketing is a must for any and all businesses. There are plenty of ways to economically collect email addresses and then you have a list of relevant leads that your creative juices can decide what to do with later. MailChimp allows you to send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers per month for free (sending more than this requires a paid subscription). It also provides access to data, like how many people opened the email and clicked through to your website. They also offer pre-designed templates, the ability to design your own, and a handy integration with WordPress and Facebook to more seamlessly collect email addresses.
There are a few free services competing closely with one another in this realm. Google Drive is one of those and has created their own online version of the Microsoft Suite to seamlessly edit and save files right to the cloud without fear of losing progress due to a bug or power outage. Dropbox is another solid choice, offering a folder saved directly onto a computer that is linked to the cloud for synced progress for whoever accesses the files. With 16GB of free storage and a simpler way to share files between coworkers than email attachment, this may be your next go-to.
HARO – Help a Reporter Out
This site is perfect for small businesses that don’t have a budget for hiring a public relations firm. Opportunities to be mentioned in news articles daily is a must if you want to increase your company’s exposure. There are of course paid subscription levels, but the basic package is free to start you out. You’ll receive emails three times a day with all the various articles going out later that day or week. Just respond to the writer with your contribution ideas if your business is relevant to their story!
Website Building and Blogging
We all know content is king, so writing an informative or entertaining blog is nearly a must if you want to be seen as knowledgeable and/or a leader in your industry. Places you can do this are on WordPress where the initial yourname.wordpress.com is free to use and design the way you want, and then to have your own domain and other editing abilities will cost a small monthly fee. The same goes for Wix, another simple website design platform also with plenty of free options. If you think your website could become more complex as your business grows, start with WordPress since it’s built to have more freedom and editing capabilities, especially if you decide to hire an agency down the road to manage your content.
Content is not worth nearly as much if it doesn’t include the actual words and phrases that people use to search the web. This is where keyword research comes into play, and there are a few good, free tools available. Google Keyword Planner within AdWords is probably the best, showing estimated monthly searches, competition levels, and estimated bid price. This is specifically for paid ads but gives an idea of how much traffic may result in adding certain phrases and how easy or hard it will be to rank your website on that first page. Wordtracker is another tool that gives a good amount of keyword data for free, and SEMRush will show what words your site is already ranking for (limited free usage per day)
If your small business could use a financial boost and the banks aren’t willing to give you a chance, contact Worldwide Capital Management or fill out our simple application to see if you qualify for a small business loan or one of our other business financing options. We’d be happy to become part of your team!